Judgment Cometh (And That Right Soon) [Joe Dillard #8], by Scott Pratt

Eight stars

Pratt returns with another of his beloved Joe Dillard legal dramas, which never ceases to pull the reader into a wonderful story of crime, mystery, and a little harrowing adventure. Tennessee is in an uproar as three of its judges have gone missing in the past few weeks. While out late one, David Craig is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. Things get much worse for Craig when the arresting officer chooses to look inside the bed of his truck and opens two coolers, both of which contain body parts. The victim is identified as a Tennessee Supreme Court judge and though Craig is highly inebriated, the interrogations begin back at the station with a county sheriff whose legal prowess matches his passion to protect and serve. Joe Dillard is called and comes to represent Craig on this matter, seeing gaping holes from the start and lies piling up by the authorities. While there is no denying that Craig had the body in his possession, he explains that he was forced to watch the dismemberment and have the pieces left in his freezer. While Dillard presses for answers, Craig refuses to give up a name. Armed with constitutional violations up the wazoo, Dillard argues and has the entire set of charges dismissed when a cocky sheriff seeks to flex his puny muscle. However, a killer remains on the loose and while Craig reveals the next in the chain of command, he cowers in fear that he might be next. Working with a personal friend, who happens to be an esteemed member of the county police community, Dillard begins following leads to discover who might be behind the murders from around the state, as well as a strong motive. Meanwhile, Dillard struggles to handle more bad news in his family when his wife is diagnosed with more cancer, this time seemingly terminal. Added grief hits the family, but Dillard does all he can to remain level. Will the killings stop long enough for someone to be caught, or will Dillard be forced to see his own client die for what he knows? Pratt keeps the story moving along nicely in this wonderful addition to the Dillard series.

While he is independently published, Pratt’s work ranks up there with some of the best and brightest in the genre. His no-nonsense approach to writing keeps the reader curious and does not bemoan useless character development to pad the chapters. Succinct, but also offering a needed balance between the main plot and areas that allow characters to shine, Pratt knows how to spin a tale and shies away from nothing. The cancer cloud looms large and does play a significant role in the story, pulling series readers into the struggle in hopes of feeling for the family in their time of need. While a cock-sure lawyer is nothing new to this type of writing, Pratt has something that allows the slightly corny nature of it all come across as permissible under the circumstances. Any reader who wants a quick but highly entertaining read need look no further than Scott Pratt and his Joe Dillard collection.

Kudos, Mr. Pratt for another wonderful novel. Keep the books coming and you will have a fan in me!